Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More


Military and Veterans Discount



AARP Games - Play Now!


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Health Discovery

Don’t Give Up on Older Smokers

Older smokers may be more motivated to quit smoking than younger smokers because of health problems.

Older smokers may make better quitters.

That’s the surprising finding from an analysis of a 16-week smoking cessation program at Florida State University (FSU). Contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that older adult smokers are “lost causes” when it comes to quitting, researchers found that older smokers are more receptive to and often more successful at quitting than younger smokers.

Why? FSU psychologist Brad Schmidt says the motivation that inspires people to quit differs among younger and older smokers.

“Health factors seem to be really important for many older smokers. Whereas younger smokers are aware that smoking has health effects, health reasons are not the primary motivation that gets them to quit.”

Schmidt and his FSU colleague Natalie Sachs-Ericsson studied 37 participants in a university smoking cessation program, half of whom were age 55 and over. A month after the 16-week program, nearly 70 percent of the older participants were smoke-free, versus 44 percent of the younger smokers.

The findings, presented by the researchers in November at a meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in New York, contradict some of the accepted theories about smoking cessation.

“The old way of thinking about this,” Schmidt says, “is that telling smokers about health risks doesn’t make a difference. We don’t think that’s accurate for older adults. For older smokers, the health stuff does seem to matter.” One reason for this: Older smokers are beginning to experience some of the health problems associated with long-term tobacco use, Schmidt says.

The researchers say they hope this study will help change minds and attitudes of physicians who tend to give up on older smokers.

University of Vermont psychologist Michael J. Zvolensky calls the research “timely and important . . . This work addresses an often neglected issue in the smoking-cessation literature.”

For older adults who are still puffing away, Schmidt says, the message is that it’s never too late to quit. “Even if you’ve been a long-term smoker, the more you try to quit, the more likely you’ll be successful. Don’t give up on yourself!”

John Hanc writes about fitness and health.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points